Plentywood, Montana August 3rd – 7th, 2015 Sheridan County Fairgrounds

I must admit it was with a certain amount of relief that I rode across the North Dakota / Montana state line. As I turn in my saddle and stretch my gaze back to New York well it all still seems like a dream. How could I possibly have ridden that far? So much can and does happen in any given day-how ever did I make it…I’ll tell you, with a lot of help from folks like yourselves who follow the rides.
North Dakota is one of my favorite places to ride. The dirt roads, small towns, water, grass and plenty of places to camp all add up to an easy state to ride across. The oil boom has slowed some but still as I rode across the northern part of the state only a couple of miles from the Canadian/U.S. border, it was busy. All the towns were busy and so were the roads. New wind farms are going in. The farming in North Dakota is some of the worlds most productive land, mammoth machinery, mammoth fields.
As I came across the Mouse River two weeks ago we were caught in a serious storm. I thought it might blow over but it settled in with raging 70 mph winds and rain. I found shelter behind a grove of thick evergreen trees, set up camp and waited it out. This is the kind of wind that you can not even stand in, let alone ride in. But the shelter worked, the horses had grass and there was even a small pond for horse water. Serious business, I was lucky.
Picked up my new saddle from Tuckers Saddle Co. my Black Mountain saddle has gone in for a few repairs, after 12,000 miles it needed a few repairs. I am now in an Endurance saddle the Trail Endurance, and oh my it is comfortable.
Roger Robinson has been such a huge help. He owns the Blacksmith Shop, (see sponsorship page) and sends out horseshoes that have his Dril-tech on the bottom. The pair I just took off yesterday came all the way from Thief River Falls, MN. that’s about 6/700 miles!!! But I’m having some issues with the toe wearing on Spirits rear hooves and Roger has made some alterations on the shoes. I can not tell you how much it helps to have a farrier of his caliber riding with me!!! I did have to venture over to the road dept. machine shop for help this morning. I could not get the rear shoes shaped properly and needed a big hammer and anvil which quite obviously I do not carry The men were up to it and they had an anvil and big hammer and they just shaped those horseshoes up for me in no time. I carried them back and had them on the horses hooves in no time. I left with a smile, wonder what they thought?
The sun takes it time setting and rising out here on the plains. I don’t have to be up quite so early and there is a shift in weather, its a bit cooler with the northern winds pushing, no shoving cooler air down our hot necks. The horses are in excellent condition. Neither one has been sick or hurt in the 6500 miles we have traveled thus far. They are by far the best team I have ever taken out. So very steadfast!
I rode into Plentywood, Montana on Monday and as I rode in a man in a cement truck caught a glimpse of me. His name is James Lord. He and Betty Smithers saw me last year as I rode through Medora, North Dakota. I so remember them because James jumped out of their jeep they were driving on the freeway entrance I was riding along. Shoved a $20.00 bill in my hand and said,”here go buy yourself a steak, we think what you’re doing is awesome.”  They have been out to visit at the fairgrounds a number of times as have a lot of other people. Still don’t know why every one does not think I am just plain nuts doing what I am doing.
Well the library is closing so this is it. forgive the misspelled words this is done rather quickly.
Happy Trials to all,
Bernice

Took us a while but we are finally going back into Canada. For Various reasons, roads, weather, forest fires burning in Canada….just kept me from getting back up there. But now our paper work is done and this will be the 3rd time I have crossed the border with the horses. I have enjoyed my travels each and every-time I have ridden in our northern neighbors country.


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Crosby, North Dakota Divide County Historical Village –  July 31st, 2015

The land has opened to display a specular panoramic view of the prairie. I always think of Willa Cather and her books about the Nebraska prairie she loved so much. I also love this country. I love the expanse and how the eye rest calmly upon the undisturbed horizon. It is all about wind, sky and now wheat, cattle and an occasional skyscraper(grain elevators)reaching for that blue sky. This once again will be short as I am at the private home of Lloyd Nygaard. Lloyd got the horses all settled in at the historical village in a 100 year old barn, it is very, very nice., the horses may refuse to leave in the morning. Then I came out to see his Fjord horses and use his computer. When I reach Plentywood, Montana in a few days I will have time to do a full length update but until then, this is short just letting you l know we are fine, traveling well nearly in Montana.
Happy Trails Bernice
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July 13th, 2015 Langdon, North Dakota

Well it has happened again…A BLUE RIBBON COMMUNITY! Langdon, North Dakota is one such community. Not only was it so very pretty, with flowers on mainstreet open fresh looking, the many parks and store fronts creatively decorated but the library, post office and businesses were all centrally located. But ofcourse the frosting is always in the hospitality!. From the chief of police who let me stay in the town park ( I carry a pooperscooper and clean up after the horses) to Michelle Schefter at the Langdon Hardward Store who provided supplies and then the smiles and handshakes and well wishers that I passed as I rode thur town, it all adds up to ….you got it
A BLUE RIBBON COMMUNITY!
 
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Am now spending a few days with Juli at her home east of town preparing to re-enter Canada. Juli’s home reminds me of the home I grew up in. A midwestern farm that her great-grandfather settled. The cool shade from big cotton wood trees makes me want to not leave. A much needed stop over to regain my composure as I ride some very hot, humid weather. The horses are doing very well. The saddles come off every 2 hours and we ride only early mornings, form 4am to maybe 10 or 11 am. I continue to update at libraries so the posting is short. I am heading for Rolla where I will prepare to re-enter Canada.
Happy Trails
Bernice
 
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Thief River Falls, North Dakota July 2nd, 2015 Pennington Fairgrounds

Greetings and apologies, this is what happened… Two weeks ago I had the entire posting with photos already to go and my computer crashed. It has been sent home; perhaps Gordy the computer guy back home can salvage some of what I lost. If not, I have lost a good deal of writing and photos. Life goes on. So this is short as I am at a library and time is limited.

Riding is hard. The heat, the mosquitoes, the wood ticks, humidity all adds up and I find myself losing perspective. I have said many times, “fatigue is my greatest enemy.” The horses are holding up better than I. We are packed light. Essie carries only 75/80 pd. Spirit has the weight of me and extra gear so that adds up but I walk at least 10 miles a day so am not on her back as much as you would think. I must be up by 3am and in the saddle by 5am. I am trotting the horses in the early morning, as the sunrises we are chased by a red ball of heat until we give in and find shade all afternoon. My bags carry dandelion greens, nettles, lambs- quarters for my evening meals. Last week I found strawberries and then I found an abandoned home whose garden still had stalks of rhubarb flourishing. So I cooked strawberries, apples, and the rhubarb with salt and honey, delicious. I stop at “eggs for sale” signs. The Amish, Hutterite’s and Mennonites’ sell produce. Spirit and Essie have a cornucopia of grasses they graze from as we travel; I let them eat and walk. They are very good at it, do not slow down, but as wild horses they can and love to eat and walk. So we are in good condition as far as nutrients goes.

We are now headed for Canada. However, I am waiting for a shipment from Tuckers Saddle and Outfitters Supply before I enter Canada. Tuckers Saddle is sending out another saddle while my Black Mountain goes in for a tune-up. It has over 12,000 miles on it. I told Dara, at Tuckers that the saddle looks like a fine pair of expensive leather shoes. It speaks of adventure. I use it hard, much more than most, if any would use a saddle these days except perhaps a working cowboy or cowgirl. It’s offered comfort to both me and Spirit and held up so well, just needs some new stitching and repairs made. But I want to take care of this and a few things from Outfitters Supply that need replacing. I certainly must be a true test for both Tuckers and OFS’s products- I could not be happier nor prouder to have them as sponsors. I also picked up a beautiful new hat which Jimmy from Sundbody Hats supplies me with. The Classic Gus which I wear is so pretty right now and then I take it and it becomes so personal to me. I cannot ride without a hat you must understand….the hat is important. > New horse shoes arrived from THE Blacksmith Shop (see sponsorship page.)  New horseshoes all around. I find myself getting better with shoeing technique, not so frustrated, it’s not easy and I have an even greater appreciation for the skills of a good farrier.  The horses wear a light fly mask all day, at night they wear heavier netting. It’s made by Cashel’s (see sponsorship page) and like the horseshoes they are critical to my rides. I just cannot thank my sponsors enough. When I began long riding I looked like a pitiful homeless woman on a horse! Now after 11 years, I have the best of equipment….and support from highly respected businesses and private sponsors. Please look at the sponsorship page for more information about all the sponsors that support my rides THANK YOU SPONSORS!

I chose Thief River Falls, MN. for my box(my horseshoes and shoeing equipment get sent ahead via postal service) pickup and stay over (a stop to rest) simply because I liked the name. I am surprised they let me stay at the Pennington County Fairgrounds looking as I did when I rode in early Wednesday morning. I was filthy, tired, looked ragged and in much need of help. I needed rest, I needed someone to say “hey, come in and make your-self at home and whatever you need we can help you get it, you just come in and rest and rest those horses.” And that is exactly what I found in Thief River Falls. It was good of Curt Howe president of the Fair Board to come out and greet me but it was Wayne Harder and Vern Hamre who got me settled in near the horse barn with my tent under lovely shade trees and the horses in open air stalls, shaded, clean and fed. It was so very nice of these two men. I had to be driven around to different locations for supplies. They opened the building so I could take showers and they checked on me several times as they worked throughout the day preparing for the upcoming 2015 Pennington County Fair July 16th. Norwegians, Swedes, farming, hard working, suntanned outdoor men, probably a bit older than me, but not by much.

I happened to be in Clearbrook, MN a day before the SummerFest Parade. Found myself caught in an afternoon storm and then rescued by Dennis Engebretson who had stopped for a visit. Dennis had a friend with a retired dairy farm so I spent the night there, in the hay shed with the horses snoring nearby. It may sound rough but it was sooooo comfortable to be out of the heat and bugs, the horses even had fresh straw for beds. In the morning I was talked into riding in the parade. It was fun, but I could not help but think, “These people must wonder who the heck is this odd looking woman with two horses and what are those big bags for?”  I followed a sign which read..”Class of 71, still horsing around. Seems I am forever getting “rescued.”

Let’s see what else has happened?
I stopped the Swan’s Man the other day. For  those of you who do not know about the “Swan’s Man”  (this what I have always thought of them as)…..For as long as I can remember there have been these yellow refrigeration trucks bigger than a pickup truck but not huge with refrigeration compartments built on the back driving the back roads, in small towns and rural routes. Swan’s offers frozen foods selling and delivering meals, sort of a frozen version of meals on wheels. The Swan Man…I have never seen a Swan’s truck driven by a woman….ummm. Well I flagged the yellow truck down, and said,” Do you have anything I could buy, like a Popsicle or something?” It was terribly hot. I was having a heck of a time just staying awake in the saddle, could not even think of walking and was having a hard time finding a place to rest in the shade. “Why yes, how about a pint of lemon-strawberry ice-cream,” the young man driving replied. Off I rode, with a pint of ice cold, brick hard ice-cream which before opening I rolled around on my face, neck and back. “This is the most unusual stop I have ever had,” he said. “Indeed,” I replied handing him a card. I rode off with cold fingers.

Stopped in Remer, MN for a couple of days, not much rest but a warm friendly visit with family. Rode the rails across Wisconsin. The Rails to Trails that is. Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin have some of the best riding trails I’ve ever found. However I must remind you they are mostly for the 4-wheelers. My horses are perfectly fine with a herd of ATVer’s barreling down the trail at them. For the most part everyone is cautious and or stop to visit. Rarely does anyone ever race by the horses carelessly. The Tri-county Corridor in Wisconsin was 80 miles I think. I also rode the Soo-line trail in Minnesota 116 miles, both coming and going on this ride..

How did I manage without a computer all those years? Now with-out it my time is limited to computers at libraries. Please understand if you do not hear from me or if my replies are short, that I have time to do a posting for the website but not much for chatting. If anyone has a newspaper article they would like to share and can scan it and/or email the link to the page so I can post the articles, I would greatly appreciate it. Also photos PLEASE SEND YOUR PHOTOS so I can share them. I have had a couple of dozen interviews in the past 2 months and most never send me a copy of the article.

So I leave in the morning with a pretty new shirt from the thrift store, a new hat, rested, well, happy and content and filled to the brim with appreciation. Thank you, never enough thank you’s…. Oh but yes there is and that is to Ashia Gustafson, librarian at Thief River Public Library. Thank you because she came to my rescue and after many failed attempts found a way to up load the photos you are looking at. Thank you Ashia

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Ironwood, Michigan – June 11th, 2015

We rode into Ironwood, Michigan June 9th.

The Gogebic County Fairgrounds has been kind enough to host my 3 day stop over. From Sault Saint Marie to Ironwood is 350 miles. I added another 60 or so by riding north thur L’Anse and Ontonagon to avoid hwy 28. It also gave me a chance to ride the shores of Lake Superior, an ocean without the salt, thrilling for this lady long rider. Twenty three days to cross Michigan, over 400 miles. We need a rest. The horses are in excellent condition and moving with energy. I am packed light, much lighter than I had been crossing Ontario, summer weather allows for fewer items to be packed and carried in my panneirs. Lots of rain but cool and only now are the bugs really determined to devour us. Each night the horses, if we do not have shelter, are covered in bed sheets and fly masks then sprayed with insect repellent. It works. Their heads and tails are quiet as they grab mouthfuls of tall orchard grass, clover, alfalfa, a cornucopia of food for my girls here in the fertile land of Michigan. IMG_1558

just before leaving Newberry, MI I stopped at the store for supplies, they had carry out, imagine what the young man must have thought
just before leaving Newberry, MI. I stopped at the store for supplies, they had carry out, imagine what the young man must have thought

MICHIGAN has the longest freshwater coastline in the world and over half the state is forested and dotted with over 100 parks!!, its been a highlight of the ride. I have learned about the “yoopers”-the name given to those living in the upper peninsula and the “trolls” those living out side or in the lower half of the state. I’ve eaten “pasties” a pastry filled with meat and vegetables, once made for the miners. And….I have been bitten by Michigan’s  nasty “black flies.” The name Michigan is derived from the American Indian name “Michi-gama” meaning large lake. The American Robin is the state bird and the painted turtle is the state reptile, I see lots of both. Its a good state to ride, lots of grass, water and friendly people who seem to find an equestrian traveler…well interesting. I am glad I came back thru, it was a good call to reroute this way.

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I really feel I must apologize for not posting my route change. Several people have inquired with,” Hey whats up I thought you were riding Canada coast to coast?” Well yes it had been my intention when I set out on this ride but plans change routes change and I do reserve the right to reroute if I feel it may be dangerous, or I simply can not make it do to weather. When I rode back into New York last year from the Atlantic Ocean I realized it would be impossible to ride all the way back into Canada near Maine. (please note that I do not route in detail my entire ride, right now I am looking at Wisconsin and Minnesota, when I cross those states I will look at Manitoba and the route westward) So I headed up thru Ontario, not sure at that point whether I would take a northern route thru Thunder Bay or take a southern route along Lake Superiors shores. I still wanted to see the Adirondacks of New York and I was pulled to see a bit more of Michigan’s “upper peninsula.” But what really changed the route was Canada’s Hwy 17, holy cow. I have never seen such truck traffic on a 2 lane road. As it was I had to haul about 100 miles of it. Highway 17 SHOULD NOT BE RIDDEN by equestrian travelers! Plain and simple. Taking the northern route seemed ridiculous as it meant even more risk. SO, I went thru Sault Saint Marie and will re-enter Canada near the Minnesota/North Dakota border and head for the west coast.

The Gogebic Fairgrounds has one of the finest displays of historical buildings constructed in the 30s. The facility is hosting several events this weekends.

Local 4-H groups learning to shear sheep
Local 4-H groups learning to shear sheep

The 4-H’s are having educational workshops and have brought tents and campers for the event not to mention their sheep, cows and pigs they will be showing at the fair this summer. I am a spokesperson for 4-H and speak at many clubs as I travel. It filled my summer with direction and discovery, I’ve said many times the lessons learned in 4-H are now applied to my long riding life. IMG_1618IMG_1617
There is also a horse-show coming up on Saturday. The fairground facility may not be what it once had been but it’s worth having and adds to any community. I do hope they are able to do the necessary repairs to the Gogebic Fairgrounds they are beautiful and as is seen by this weekend, well used.
Thank you to Carl and John who keep the buildings and grounds in good working order. They made sure I had everything, ran me out to buy hay and grain and just checked in on us to make sure the horses and myself had everything we needed. ALSO thank you Kathy Jo and Nancy Zak for helping us get settled in and safely off busy hwy #2.

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Michigan photos:

my champion horses in Champion, MI
my champion horses in Champion, MI

when the sign says STOP well we stoop
when the sign says STOP well we stop

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Here we are in the Gogebic Fairgrounds Race Horse barn #2 Essie and Spirit could not qualify for barn #1

 
 

Ironwood, Michigan

These photos do not do justice to the actual structures. Deb Daniels met me a day or two before I rode into Ironwood. She had stopped the car beside me as I struggled to pick up the over turned panniers. (They’d slipped under Essie’s belly, the cinch came loose), Oh  I was having a good time when Deb stopped, and we laughed about it. Her aging terrier (I think he is) Gismo stuck his head out the window and thought the whole scene pretty amusing. Deb came by later the next day at the fairgrounds. She let me take a hot bathtub soak at her lovely home, chauffeured me around town to run errands and then we went out with a handful of other folks for a beer. Such a help. These are photos of Ironwood, once a logging town once a mining town once quite prosperous. But still it is a beautiful town and well kept and the architecture stunning.

there Deb on the steps of the Memorial Building
there Deb on the steps of the Memorial Building

 
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Look at this mural
Look at this mural

 
taken from an actual photo I wish I had more details for you. It is the miners who worked in the Iron Ore Mines real faces, real lives.
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four magnificent cathedrals stood on one corner all out did the other
four magnificent cathedrals stood on one corner all out did the other

Newberry, Michigan – 3 day stop over at the Rathjes Home – May 25th,2015

On May 16th, 2015 as I neared the end of my Ontario ride I rode westward along a dirt road with long shadows attached to our tails. A newer pickup coming out of the setting sun drove up and stopped. The driver rolled down his window and the woman passenger leaned over to get a better look. I should have written their names down because I do not remember it. One of the many…”curious and interested” who embellish my rides. After we got our who’s and where’s straight away the elderly gentleman asked if I had heard of the book called Saddlebags for Suitcases. I said, of course I had it was a legendary ride by Mary Bosanquet.  Well he told me she came down this road and she wintered here in Dayton, YOU ARE IN Dayton he said. There were no buildings remaining and he was not sure who the family was that she stayed with but it didn’t matter to me, my jaw was hanging in disbelief as he drove off. WOW I mean, I had just been told I was on the same route that Mary rode in 1939. The nearby farms held Mennonite and Amish farmers. Minutes earlier I had ridden past a team of work horses pulling a manure spreader driven by a young man who skillfully handled the team. Black buggies pulled by lean, long legged saddle-bred horses sped by, a nod from the bearded driver wearing a large hat like mine. A quietness filled the air. The absence of engine noise replaced by bird songs in spring delight.
A time warp. It happens.
Posted is a short exert from her book, its available thru the Long Riders Guild library or most libraries have it. It’s a good read.  One of the earliest  “lady long riders.”
Had to share this with you.
March 9, 2015 by leaves and pages website
In 1939 a young Englishwoman in her early 20s had an unusual idea, and, being of a straightforward nature and having a methodical sort of mind, set about to see if she could bring the thought into reality.
Perhaps inspired by the accounts of Aimé Tschiffely, who from 1925 to 1928 made a 10,000 mile horseback journey from Buenos Aires to New York City, Mary Bosanquet, a lifelong horsewoman and an accomplished rider, decided to try for a relatively more modest but still astoundingly ambitious solo horseback ride: right across Canada from Vancouver heading East.
Mary and her horses Timothy and Jonty achieved the goal, covering an estimated 3800 miles of horse trail, back road, and highway in eighteen months. Of this time, the winter of 1939-40 was spent hosted by a farm family in Ontario.She was the recipient of much attention from newspaper reporters as the trek proceeded, was surprised by several offers of marriage from smitten cowboys, attended the Calgary Stampede and was inspired by the displays there to try out bronc riding herself with reasonably successful results, for though she was unseated several times she felt she had figured out the stick-to-the-horse technique quite nicely, learning through doing, as it were. During the later stage of her journey Mary even visited the Dionne quintuplets, and her wry commentary on that experience is a fascinating glimpse at that particular social phenomenon.
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An Extraordinary Solo Journey – Saddlebags for Suitcases: Across Canada on Horseback by Mary Bosanquet
March 9, 2015 by leaves and pages
In 1939 a young Englishwoman in her early 20s had an unusual idea, and, being of a straightforward nature and having a methodical sort of mind, set about to see if she could bring the thought into reality.
Perhaps inspired by the accounts of Aimé Tschiffely, who from 1925 to 1928 made a 10,000 mile horseback journey from Buenos Aires to New York City, Mary Bosanquet, a lifelong horsewoman and an accomplished rider, decided to try for a relatively more modest but still astoundingly ambitious solo horseback ride: right across Canada from Vancouver heading East.
Mary and her horses Timothy and Jonty achieved the goal, covering an estimated 3800 miles of horse trail, back road, and highway in eighteen months. Of this time, the winter of 1939-40 was spent hosted by a farm family in Ontario.She was the recipient of much attention from newspaper reporters as the trek proceeded, was surprised by several offers of marriage from smitten cowboys, attended the Calgary Stampede and was inspired by the displays there to try out bronc riding herself with reasonably successful results, for though she was unseated several times she felt she had figured out the stick-to-the-horse technique quite nicely, learning through doing, as it were. During the later stage of her journey Mary even visited the Dionne quintuplets, and her wry commentary on that experience is a fascinating glimpse at that particular social phenomenon.
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Thank you to Greg and Christine and their daughter Lilly, home from University.  Greg and Christine Rathjes are both teachers so there was an added bonus of stimulating conversation besides the time to rest, recover, prepare for the next step. Thank you so very much, a much needed stop over for me AND for the horses who had oats and minerals and carrots and treats…and new horseshoes!!
I head north in the morning. Will swing up for a look at Lake Superior.
Duluth- next long stop over.
Happy Trails, stay well. Bernice
 

ONTARIO,,,,,,THANK YOU